It’s almost always better for everyone when preschoolers learn while having fun – and numbers are no exception. We’ve moved past the days of the worksheet-checking cycle and into more engaging ways for our kids to learn new things.
When I was setting up a counting activity for my four-year-old son, I wanted him to be more engaged – to be able to move and touch objects as he counted. My lightbulb moment: a domino track. This kind of domino counting activity was a perfect fit, being a hands-on activity that could give my preschooler a strong understanding of number sense.
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Learning Numbers With a Domino Number Match Up Game
When you close your eyes and imagine a group of six, what is it that you see? One of the things you might think of is groupings in a domino – three on the top and three on the bottom. Try doing the same for a group of five – do you see a domino or dice?
Subitizing: Understanding How Kids Learn To Count
The way that you see these objects in your mind is called subitizing. To be technical about it, subitizing is the ability to see a small number of objects and correctly judge how many they are without needing to count. The best examples are identifying dominoes or the faces of dice. Learning this skill is part of a child’s normal development, beginning in infancy and continuing to become refined as they get a little older.
Getting familiar with numbers is also a part of the process. My preschooler is practicing rational counting with a domino matching game in the photo below. The process begins when toddlers start to count each object, and with some practice, they go from rational counting to subitizing.
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Teaching Your Child About Numbers
Why is subitizing important? Helping kids with their subitizing skills will allow them to process new information more easily. The skill to group familiar numbers automatically helps them avoid having trouble counting and even adding later on. For preschoolers though, it’s best to take your time with them and simply help them get familiar with numbers.
As a kind of number recognition game, dominoes are a great way to expose your child to numbers. Playing this type of game will help them pair the symbol for a number to its correct meaning – in this case, the number of dots on the correct side of a domino. Developing number sense sounds a little dull when you think about it as an adult, but a domino number match up game is a great way to make it interesting for your preschooler.
What You’ll Need For Your Domino Track
My preschool son had so much fun with this that we even extended it by adding three more rows of domino numbers! Playing a domino matching game can help your child get more comfortable with numbers, but it also gives them a nice sense of accomplishment when they get it right. Here’s what you’ll need to play.
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The things you’ll want to have for this game are really simple:
How to Play The Domino Number Match Up Game
Game is simple enough, but it will be really fun and engaging for your preschooler. Having them learn about numbers by playing with dominoes is great because it’s really engaging, but also easy to understand visually.
Here are the steps to play your domino matching game:
- Step 1: Tape down a large piece of white paper to a table.
- Step 2: Choose around ten dominoes to start out.
- Step 3: Be sure that only the dominoes you chose are available. Giving too many choices can be overwhelming for young kids, especially if they’re trying it out for the first time.
- Step 4: Draw up some lines and add a blank space for each domino. You can use the width of a ruler if that’ll make it easier.
- Step 5: Write down the number pairs that correspond to the dominoes you picked out, and instruct your preschooler about how the domino number match up game works.
- Step 6: Start playing! What your child has to do is match the correct domino to the numbers you wrote down earlier.
- Step 7: Have loads of fun!
A Lesson in Numbers
Helping your child get familiar with numbers can be another opportunity for a breakfast invitation if you’re willing to set up a domino number match up game with them. Learning through play is always a wonderful experience for kids, both for helping them develop and giving them confidence. So if you’d like to start helping your preschooler learn some number sense, a domino track could be how you’d like to spend your day!
RELATED: In case your child is a little older, you might want to consider focusing more on counting with a domino addition loop!